Metals in the Environment

There are many elements that display the properties necessary to be considered a metal.  Although almost 80% of the elements listed on the periodic table are thought of as metals, only a handful are classified as being potentially toxic and harmful to the environment.  These elements include well known metals such as Lead, Arsenic, Mercury, Silver, Zinc and Copper. Metals are mostly found in high concentrations underground but they do exist naturally in very low levels in surface water and soil as well.  Some of these metals such as Zinc, Copper and Chromium can be found in small quantities in foods and are a necessary part of the human diet.  Industrial activities that extract or concentrate metals can release them into the environment in a finely divided form; however, and increase the potential for harm to people and wildlife living nearby. Ingestion of metal particles can happen as a result of consuming contaminated groundwater and foods, from breathing in dust or from using products that did not meet safety standards when manufactured.  When these metals enter the body, they begin to accumulate in the soft tissues and interfere with cellular functions.  The symptoms of metal toxicity vary depending on the exposure, the contaminant and the individual person. The EPA and TCEQ have established regulations regarding the remediation of metals contamination in the water and soil and the disposal of waste materials.  When industrial or mining sites are shut down, they often require extensive cleanup to remove the contamination that occurred during their operation.  The Exide battery recycling facility in Frisco is an example of a site that received wide public scrutiny during the cleanup after its closure in 2012.  Metals contamination can be especially prevalent at older sites that operated before aggressive federal legislation was passed to curve pollution. Over the past nineteen years, Protect Environmental has offered site evaluation and remediation along with our comprehensive emergency HazMat response services.  We’ve developed strong partnerships with environmental laboratories, transporters and waste disposal facilities and have extensive experience working with the TCEQ to meet remediation and reporting requirements.  We develop strategies tailored to individual situations and only incorporate resources that fit the need and are economical for our clients. Our staff are ready to help you with your environmental needs whether you are dealing with metals, pesticides, PCB’s, petroleum or other organics.  Contact our office and we’ll work to keep your organization on track with environmental regulations and avoid the harsh consequences of non-compliance.